What is the first task of the Christian steward?
It is this time of year that I preach a three-part sermon series on Stewardship. Every year I emphasize that stewardship is time, talent, and treasure, but what is the first task of Christian stewardship?
Could it be to give thanks?
We express our gratitude, first of all, for the Son who has won our salvation for us. We gratefully acknowledge to God all the gifts He daily and richly makes available to us, and we are aware of our responsibility to manage faithfully all the resources our Creator has entrusted to us.
How thankful we can be for all those blessings! What a privilege to be called to be God’s partner in the stewardship of the Gospel! Paul wrote, thanking the Philippians for their “partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:5).
How did the Philippians participate with Paul in this partnership?
The verses following tell us that they, along with Paul, received the grace of God which He imparts to us through His Holy Word and Sacraments. They supported, encouraged, and prayed for Paul as he carried out his work for the Kingdom, and his heart rejoiced that they continued steadfastly in faith.
As members of the Body of Christ, the Church, we are all partners in the Gospel. Each of us has been given gifts by the Holy Spirit that enable and equip us for this partnership (1 Peter 4:10). Thus we speak of our faith, telling the message of the Gospel wherever and whenever God gives us opportunity, even if it means that we, along with Paul, suffer for it (Acts 4:20). We perform acts of service that help our neighbors (Matthew 25:34-40). By the grace of God, we “…let [our] light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Being a good steward begins with giving thanks. Hmmm?
Maybe that is why each year we call our stewardship campaign – Thanksgiving, Thanks Living.
Maybe that is why we bring our pledge cards forward on Thanksgiving.
Just maybe, good stewardship begins with thanks giving.